Facebook may have started out as a way for people to connect with their friends, but in the process of becoming the world’s largest social network, it has evolved into the greatest marketing platform on earth. The key to the success of its marketing platform lies within two core elements: the social graph, and reach.
With its social graph, Facebook is able to gain a deeper understanding of our social network of friends around the world and how we interact with one another. Whether it’s announcing the birth of a child, uploading a photo, how often we’re served a specific kind of ad unit, how we respond to them and to advertisers, and a wide array of other actions we take, Facebook has all of the insights, and it is developing robust products around that information. The social graph is the key to understanding human nature, and now that Facebook is using those data, it is able to create advertising products like no other.
One of the results of Facebook’s research developed from its partnership with Datalogix, Acxiom, Epsilon, and BlueKai. They created a powerful product called partner categories, which allows advertisers to target ads to Facebook users based on hundreds of categories, such as:
- Users who are likely to buy a compact vehicle in the next 180 days.
- Users who spend three times or more than the national average on cereal.
- Users who are purchasers of baby products.
This tool alone provides marketers the type of value they could not get anywhere else. All of this was a result of Facebook’s partnership in merging purchasing activities and its ability to map similar customers based on their social graph. It’s a remarkable concept once you fully grasp what it has done.
The combination of the offline and online world doesn’t end there. Facebook has another tool called custom audiences that allows advertisers to upload their customers’ phone numbers and email addresses. Facebook then matches that info to their profiles, and allows advertisers to target ads towards their customers only.
Imagine the possibilities: You’re a car manufacturer that has just sold a vehicle. Winter is coming. You didn’t sell them winter tires. You could upload all of those email addresses or phone numbers from those customers. Facebook will then securely match them with its database, and you can start targeting ads toward them to purchase winter tires. It’s much quicker, cheaper, and more efficient than any other direct-response campaign you could launch. It’s very powerful stuff, a marketing platform that merges offline activities with the online world. There’s no other platform like it.
One of the other advantages to Facebook is its wide reach. Marketers no longer have to wait for major events that happens once per year, like the Super Bowl, to run a 30-second commercial to reach a large audience. According to The Wall Street Journal, 108 million Americans tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLVII. Facebook has 665 million users actively engaged on a daily basis. The difference between the two marketing channels is that marketers can accurately pinpoint their target audiences on Facebook, a lot better than on TV or any other marketing platform. The reach, accuracy, return on investment, and ability to tie in likes and comments make ads on Facebook much more effective and social than other marketing mediums.
An added benefit of using Facebook as a marketing platform is the ability to get people talking about your brand. Many brands have experienced that users are more likely to try products when their friends recommend them. In fact, Nielsen conducted a study that found that 92 percent of consumers trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. This is one of the key reasons why the cost per acquisition on Facebook tends to be significantly lower than on other traditional mediums.
During Mars’ M&M’s Pretzel launch, Mars gave its Facebook fans early access to the new product. It offered free samples of M&M’s Pretzel on a first-come-first-served basis. It also gave those who received samples the opportunity to select two friends who would also receive sample bags.
Debra Sandler, chief consumer officer at Mars Chocolate North America, explained why it decided to use Facebook as the driving force behind its promotional campaign:
The reason we chose to take a more viral approach to sampling with Facebook in the M&M’s Pretzel launch was because of the authenticity of connections being shared, as opposed to Mars always pushing the product ourselves. I think it’s incredibly powerful for consumers to speak to each other and to offer each other the options and the great ideas they have found on the site.
Mars was able to efficiently distribute 120,000 samples within a 48-hour period. The campaign also brought in a flood of comments from fans demonstrating their love for M&M’s Pretzels, which leads to greater brand awareness and brand affinity.
There is an endless list of opportunities and tools available to brands on Facebook.
With Facebook, brands can be more strategic with their ad dollars and decrease their cost per acquisition by targeting to the right audience, with the ability to scale to millions.
We like to look at the platform not as a social one, but as one that offers marketing solutions to our clients. It’s looking at Facebook beyond the social, and harnessing the power of targeting and reach for the campaigns we build.
Mario Zelaya is the founder and global managing director of Majestic Media, Canada’s first Facebook marketing and technology agency. His extensive experience on the Facebook platform includes building out social strategy, campaign ideation, application architecture, and social design for brand clients such as Volkswagen, Kia, General Motors, Mazda, Gatorade, Hot Wheels, Infiniti, Nissan, Visa, and many others. Majestic Media has executed more than 200 large-scale campaigns and works with big brands and agencies in helping them to get results and ROI through campaigns that are social by design. Follow Majestic Media and Mario on Twitter.